The dramatic differences between rich and poor that were on view during Hurricane Katrina also can be seen by how those two groups view the causes of poverty. The poor largely believe they were dealt a bad hand while the rich are more apt to say poverty is from lack of effort.
Polling by the Marguerite Casey Foundation also found that both rich and poor are optimistic about future prospects for their children.
Those at the poverty level or the near poor were almost twice as likely to say factors beyond their control are responsible for their impoverished state. Those who make higher incomes were evenly split on whether poverty is caused by external factors or by people not making enough effort.
Most in the public - at least three quarters - were aware of the big gap between rich and poor in this country well before Katrina put those differences in the spotlight.
"We're looking more and more like a developing country," said Luz Vega-Marquis, president of the foundation. "We have a concentration of wealth in the top 5 percent, but what is happening to the middle-class and poor people?"
The encouraging thing is that half of those polled who have higher incomes recognize that there are external factors affecting poverty. Not everything is as simple as conservatives would have us believe.
For now, we still live in a country where hard work is occasionally rewarded, and along with a hand up or a lucky break can still lift people out of poverty. Unfortunately, those currently holding the reins of power seem hell-bent on undermining progressive policies that make this possible. Their culture of corruption and cronyism benefits the Corporate Church of State, not the people.